Sunday, October 14, 2018

Incendiary kites flown from Gaza into Kerem Shalom,Israel

Entrance to Kibbutz Kerem Shalom
I just read an article on Haaretz that made me realize how much I don't understand about the kites that Palestinians from Gaza are using to start fires in Israel. This happened on Friday, near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, which is right on the Gaza-Israel border:
At 3:05 P.M. there was a first hint of what was about to happen. A gigantic kite, to which a burning tire was attached, hovered over the border, slowly approaching the kibbutz. Within minutes there was a second, third and fourth one, and an hour later there was an acrid smell in the air. At 4:30 P.M. there was smoke over the kibbutz.

Kibbutz Kerem Shalom
The Gaza Fence from Kerem Shalom

Wall protecting Kerem Shalom on the Gaza side

From a longer article this summer about the incendiary kites:
In recent months Gazans have sent hundreds of burning kites into Israel. Acres of yellowing fields have gone up in smoke. The people living on the Gaza border don’t hear “red alerts” any more, they see them and they’re angry and scared. So far no fence or obstacle presented by the army has stopped the flimsy airborne armada. Missile interception systems aren’t geared for such primitive “weaponry.”

Absent solutions, more and more kites have taken to the air; if at first just a few fell into Israel, the sorties multiplied – and became more sophisticated. The first kites were a take on Molotov cocktails but later ones were equipped to explode, and kites were also joined by helium balloons. ...
Whatever, it doesn’t matter to the next number, which is 25,000. That’s the number of dunams burned so far (in acres, 6,250), and it’s equivalent to the extent of the Carmel forest fire in 2010. But that’s where the similarity ends. There the fire burned forest while by Gaza, the main casualties are crops. 
Pictures of flaming forests may be more dramatic, but real damage has been caused by the kites, says Avner Yona, director of field crop operations at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. About 1,300 dunams of wheat and irrigation systems have gone up in flames. The big losses are mainly in the irrigation systems, he adds: Replacing irrigation systems takes time and turning the water back on takes two more days. Ultimately, instead of producing, say, seven tons of crop, they produce four.... 
The list of sites where fires broke out is long and varied. Beyond orchards and various crops, fire also consumed large swathes of the Kissufim Forest, the Be’eri Crater nature reserve, areas near the water reservoir of Kibbutz Nir Am and areas around the Besor Stream. These places were burned more than once, sometimes dozens of times. 
The damage isn’t just to the landscape. The residents in the area are breathing the smoke and suffering from it. This is particularly palpable among high-risk groups like children and asthmatics....
Whole nature reserves burned: The Parks and Nature Reserves Authority says 10,000 dunams of conservation ground has gone up, including 5,500 at Besor Stream (according to the latest estimate). Thousands of animals have died, notably small species, rodents, reptiles and insects. But not just them: Foxes, jackals, tortoises and lizards have died too and that’s just the start of the list.

Israel’s nature reserves are relatively small, and the destroyed areas are a big part of them, Gilad Gabbay, manager of the southern district for the Parks and Nature Reserves Authority, told Haaretz. There has been a huge loss of habitats for animals in the region, he says; recovery will take years. “In the short term, it is almost impossible to compensate for the damage. In the long term, we will have to see what we can do to rehabilitate the reserves,” Gabay says. At the Besor, everywhere you look you see burned turtles, he says.

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